In signing Williams, general manager Brandon Beane and head coach Sean McDermott — both former Panthers employees — will add yet another bullet point on the list of players who’ve headed from Carolina to Buffalo. Williams joins Josh Norman, Vernon Butler, Star Lotulelei, A.J. Klein, and Mario Addison as ex-Panthers now on the Bills’ roster.
Williams, 27, spent time all over Carolina’s front five last year; after playing tackle for most his career, he saw the majority of his action at guard in 2019, where Pro Football Focus graded him 57th positionally among 80 qualifiers. The former fourth-round pick was outstanding as the Panthers’ right tackle in 2017, but multiple knee injuries limited him to just one game the following season.
The Bills made a number of investments in their offensive line last offseason, signing Mitch Morse, Quinton Spain, Jon Feliciano, Spencer Long, and Ty Nsekhe to free agent pacts while selecting Cody Ford in the second round of the draft. Every member of that haul will return in 2020, meaning Williams may not have a shot to start. Given his versatility, he’ll add value as a utility lineman, but his best chance at significant playing time is likely at right guard, where he could compete with Feliciano and Long.
Williams looked poised to cash in following his excellent 2017 campaign, and even after injuries prevented him from seeing much action in 2018, many observers believed he’d still garner a hefty multi-year pact. Instead, he was forced to accept a one-year, $6MM deal as he re-signed with the Panthers. Given his health history, it’s perhaps unsurprising that he’s again inking a single-season pact.
Carolina perhaps signaled that it wasn’t interested in retaining Williams when it signed former Bengals guard John Miller to a one-year pact last week. Miller will take over at right guard for the Panthers, joining trade acquisition Russell Okung as a new addition to Carolina’s front five.
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